Frequently Asked Questions about the Canberra Housing Proposal – Based on the Common Ground Model


What is the Common Ground?


Common Ground is the first step towards ending chronic homelessness. The Common Ground model creates a strong base which assists and supports the move from homelessness into permanent supported housing, it provides

  • an environment and community for people who have previously been venerable and living on the streets ,


  • permanent, affordable, safe, high quality supportive housing


Why is this different from other housing models?


Common Ground delivers a permanent solution as it matches accommodation with personalized support services to ensure people transition and ultimately live independently



Why does Canberra need a Common Ground project?


Canberra needs a Common Ground housing program to complement the present housing alternatives for homeless people as well as low cost housing for vulnerable people in the ACT

  • Canberra is not an affordable city to live-in

  • we need more low cost and affordable housing stock


Canberra has a population of homeless people. Statistics from the 2006 Census show that the number of people estimated to be homeless in the ACT grew by 11% between 2001 and 2006, from 1229 to 1364 people.


Where did the Common Ground model come from?


Common Ground is a not for profit organisation based in the United States it was first started in New York in the early 1990’s by Roseanne Haggerty and is growing in popularity in Australia as the best model to support and end chronic homelessness.


Who would Common Ground look to provide housing for?

Common Ground targets the most vulnerable chronically homeless in the community. These are people who have been homeless continuously for six months or more, or who have experienced multiple episodes of primary homelessness over a 12 month period. They often have substantial barriers to housing stability such as a disability, mental illness or substance misuse disorder.


How would the model work in Canberra?


Our approach would be consistent with the Common Ground model providing:


Supportive Housing

  • Common Ground is based on the Supportive Housing model. This approach works to end homelessness by joining high quality, safe, affordable and permanent rental accommodation, with well-coordinated, tailored and flexible services targeted at meeting the needs and improving outcomes for homeless populations.



  • A key principle is that the housing is affordable. For most tenants, this means that rents will be set at no more than 30% of gross income.


High Quality

  • The Common Ground housing will look attractive, with both street appeal and a high standard of interior finish.



  • The Common Ground premises will be a safe environment: controlled entry (key or keycard access to common and private areas), a full time 24 hour concierge, and monitoring of entry points.



  • The project will increase the availability of permanent housing to low-income and homeless people. Once tenants are housed, this will be their permanent home as long as they want, and conditions of tenancy are met.


Why has Common Ground Canberra selected this site?


The proposed site is well located, close to a range of amenities including parks, public transport, shopping, health and social services, and employment, and within a medium density mixed residential and commercial zone.


Who will the tenants be?


We also plan to develop strategies for attracting a 50:50 mix of homeless and low income earners as tenants this social mix is an important element of the success of the model.


How will tenants be selected?


Common Ground Canberra’s tenancy team will work with various refuges and other agencies to provide transitional accommodation to the most vulnerable homeless people.


Who will manage Common Ground Canberra and what support will Common Ground Canberra give to its tenants?


On site tenancy and support staff are a critical part of the Common Ground facility. The facility should provide appropriate office spaces for staff (including the concierge and any tenancy staff) and appropriate rooms for the provision of support services.


How will Common Ground Canberra be accountable to both its tenants and the community at large?


For recently homeless tenants, the transition to Common Ground tenancy will need careful support. Immediate needs will be assessed through a standardised process at point of entry. They are likely to include addressing urgent or acute physical and mental health needs, and ensuring basic living skills for the new environment.


A trusting respectful relationship between the tenant and the support team will enable early intervention if a tenant is experiencing a crisis or feels at risk or vulnerable.




Is congregating this many people in one building a good idea, and are tenants likely to present a danger to the community, especially children?


The provision of secure environment is a key component of a Common Ground facility. The security must be both real and perceived. Generally, a facility will include a single controlled access point, and a concierge lobby.

Will Common Ground Canberra have families living in the building?


In the first stage we don’t envisage families will be living in the building.  This may change over time.

What safeguards will there be against anti-social behaviour by the tenants?


A secure place to live is important to tenants’ ability to control their own lives. Any tenant will be entitled to security from unwelcome intrusions, whether from people outside the development or from other tenants.  Physical security will be complemented by the encouragement of a positive social environment that builds trust and social capital within the complex, minimizes the risk of conflict, and provides mechanisms and skills for conflict resolution.

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